WebQuest: Fission or Fizzle?
Will a potential fission reaction continue on its own or fizzle out? What conditions are needed
to initiate and sustain a fission chain reaction? Use the Nuclear Fission Simulation to
Part I. Fission: One Nucleus
Select the “Fission: One Nucleus” tab to bring up the screen shown here. Practice firing the
neutron gun at the U‐235 nucleus and observe what happens. Use the pause button if needed.
1. What happens when the U‐235 nucleus is “hit” with a neutron? Describe how the nucleus
changes and identify the products that form.
When the U-235 nucleus is "hit" with a neutron, the combination of the energy is emitted as U-236
nucleus. The nucleus swings and finally fissures into three neutrons.
2. How does the simulation convey the high kinetic energy of the daughter nuclei?
The simulation conveys the high kinetic energy of the daughter nuclei by the rapid separation of the
Part II. Chain Reaction
Select the “Chain Reaction” tab. Take a minute to compare the particles shown in the legend at
the right of the screen. How are they different? Locate the sliders at the bottom right that allow
you to control the number of U‐235 and U‐238 nuclei present.
1. Set the initial number of U‐235 nuclei to 100 and U‐238 to 0. What happens when you fire
the neutron gun? Click “Reset Nuclei” to see if the same results occur each time.
a. How are the results obtained with 100 U‐235 nuclei different than the results obtained in
the “One Nucleus” simul...
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